10 years ago I fell in love with Paris and its macaron. At that time I was studying French at the institute, which allowed me to get a scholarship for a month's stay in a small town near the French capital. There I met my woman today. This month marks our first anniversary, and what better to celebrate than to return to the city where we met and fell in love, just 10 years later.
In short, this trip has been more planned with the heart than with the head. Maybe it is not the itinerary for those who have never visited Paris. I believe that It can be useful for those who, like me, are going to be there for a very little time (although in Paris there is always little).
The trip started very early on 14 February on Valentine's Day. We flew in the morning and it was our first time with a low-cost. The airport is only 10 minutes from home. We did not have check in luggage and so we do the check-in online. We left at 7:30 from home (we like to be in time with the airports).
The boarding was very fast and at the scheduled time. The plane surprised me a lot. It was quite new and the staff was very nice. In addition, we had paid to choose the cheapest seats. We were approached by a stewardess who asked us if we did not mind moving to the emergency exits (seats somewhat more expensive).
Apparently they had not been occupied and for safety reasons they could be free. Obviously we changed (more space to stretch the legs) and the thing started on the right foot. A couple from behind asked the stewardess to also change to these seats but they answered that they had not paid to choose a seat and could not change.
The flight was quite quiet and we arrived 10 minutes before the Paris Orly airport. And since we did not have to wait for our bags, we decided to take a taxi. Until that moment we had been hesitating to take a taxi and in the end it was a wise choice to choose first. In 20 minutes we were at our hotel.
At about 11:30 we were at the hotel. Although the website indicated that the check-in could not be done until 1:00 pm we decided to try it, well or at least to keep the suitcase. Sure enough, they told us that they still did not have the room ready but that we could leave the luggage in the area enabled for it. We can enter the room at 2:00 pm.
Once free of suitcase, we went to the metro station of the Gare d'Austerlitz, which was less than 50 meters from the hotel, on the same sidewalk. The best part of the hotel has undoubtedly been its location and we went to the window to buy our cards. The lady in charge of the ticket office was rude. We stay a long time waiting for her to arrive (because there was no one at the window).
But when she arrives she starts talking to a partner about personal things on our face, no matter how hard we try to interrupt her. Also, when she deigned to attend us, I asked her a question and while she was answering she kept talking to the other one at the same time. And the journey begins! The first visit was going to be short.
It was still not 12 noon but we had to eat and be at the hotel to check-in at 2. Even so we had some time to get closer to the Francois-Mitterrand Library that was very close to the hotel. For the first visit it was a fiasco. The truth is that we expected something else. Of course this is a very subjective appreciation, since it is not the architectural style that we like the most.
We took a couple of photos and decided not to pay the entrance fee. We did not waste much more time and decided to return to the hotel area to eat. In that same street, Boulevard de l'Hopital, there were several bistros and brasseries. After checking the prices and menus they had on the slates we decided on a brasserie. The formula was composed of starter and dish or plate and dessert, and they had enough variety to choose from. The attention was excellent, very close and pleasant.
From starter we ordered duck salad, which was delicious and a croque monsieur (hot sandwich of ham and cheese with gratin cheese on top). And to drink, we ordered the famous carafe as most restaurant customers, who put us with all the normality of the world. When we finished the meal, it was already 2 in the afternoon so we could finally check in at the hotel.
Partly we chose it because of its location and partly because it had a 24-hour reception, which we liked since we had to leave the hotel at dawn. Our return flight was at 6:15 in the morning, and we preferred that from the hotel we will call a taxi and not have to wait in the street.
They gave us a room and we were very satisfied. The bed was very comfortable. Everything was new and very clean. Once we finished inspecting the room, we freshened up a little and went out to discover Paris. We had a wonderful afternoon ahead.
We enter the subway again and head towards the Opera Garnier. This was one of the thorns that stuck in our student stay in the city. For some mysterious reason, the organizers did not include it in the month we were there.
I decided to try my luck with my card, as they give discount to students. The fact is that without looking at it, they charged me the reduced rate. As for the Opera, it is one of those magical buildings. When we left the Opera we went to the Galeries Lafayette. Our intention was to visit the dome that we had seen in some photos. The Galleries are on Boulevard Haussmann just 5 minutes walk. This was initially a simple thing, but we were unable to find the damn dome. After entering several places and with the tight time we had decided to leave it for another time.
The shoes that I took to the trip were the typical sneakers. It was comfortable, good, beautiful and tested a thousand times, but just when stepping on Paris, decided on its own to become a damn skin demons. Instead of walking to the Madeleine, which is quite close to the Opera, we take the subway.
The outside of the Church does not fit at all the typical construction of the Catholic Church, but reminds of ancient Greece. From the top of the stairs we have a very nice view of the Rue Royal and in the background the Place de la Concorde and the Obelisk.
However, before heading to the Place de la Concorde we could not resist entering a shop of gourmet products in the same place of the Madeleine. In the back of the Church here we can buy among other things some delicious French macarons.
The macarons could be bought by units or in packs with very cute boxes a little more expensive, of course. There was a great variety of flavors. We tried pistachio, raspberry, chocolate and caramel. I prefer the more traditional ones.
And now yes, we took the Rue Royale for a short walk to the Place de la Concorde. We pass before Laduree in that same street, but I could not buy more macarons because there was a huge queue! For those who do not know, it is the oldest and most famous bakery in Paris and also the most expensive.
Of course, the store was beautiful and for the chocolatiers like me, it was worth seeing. And now, we arrived at the Place de la Concorde and for the first time since we had set foot in Paris we finally see the Eiffel Tower! It was a magical feeling. I had not seen her for ten years. And seeing her again, it's like realizing that, yes, I am in Paris.
But we return to the Place de la Concorde. Right now I do not have the photo at hand, but there was a guy inside the fountain, wet to the eyebrows as you can guess, collecting coins. After a few minutes I turn over the map trying to decipher if on the right was the Avenue of the Champs Elysees and to the left the Luxembourg Gardens or vice versa. We managed to embark on the route to the Arc de Triomphe.
Undoubtedly, the Champs Elysees , is one of the most famous avenues in the world, especially for its luxurious shops and expensive cafes. Although, that is the best known area, there is a small stretch between the Place de la Concorde and the commercial area of this avenue. Here we enjoy a beautiful walk through a garden area.
Walking towards the Arc de Triomphe we are on the left with the Petit and the Grand Palais, of which I have no photos in conditions. Inside the two buildings there were several exhibitions (obviously paid), but time was pressing us and we could not enter. It was about 5:30 pm and we still had to have dinner and get to Trocadero at 7 o'clock. So we decided to take the subway that we had right next to, Clemenceau until George V, in the middle of the Avenue.
My partner was ecstatic with the exposed models of the Mercedes. I watched a while a very well dressed man who apparently was paid to polish the car every time someone put his big hands. We decided to go to dine.
For dinner, very close to the Arc de Triomphe, we found a Brioche Doree, which, I was tempted to try. We take a sandwich. It was the perfect choice. And once the energies were restored, it was time to move to Trocadero so that I could calmly see my beloved Eiffel Tower.
I running to get to Trocadero to see the light show every hour on the dot. At about 7:30 pm I finally saw the Eiffel Tower illuminated. This was one of my pending subjects. After spending a month residing close to Paris, our beloved monitors who took us every afternoon to visit the capital did not let us stay until nightfall. So I had not seen the city illuminated.
Around 7:30 we went to the ticket offices, to buy the cruise ticket. There was a lot of line so they advised us to wait and be able to take a better place. After half an hour of queue (the only one we did in the whole trip) at 8 o'clock the cruise leave.
I have no words to describe how romantic it was. Paris was completely lit, and we listen through the phones everything that the guide had. When we pass under the Pont Marie we follow the tradition of giving each other a kiss with our eyes closed, as tradition says. Although it is true that it was not the first time we had gone under but, why miss the opportunity?
At 9 o'clock, we disembarked while the Eiffel Tower re-lit Paris. And we went to the entrance to see what happened with our tickets. As we had been notified by email, for technical reasons they only had one lift available to go up to the Tower, so we could find a queue of up to two hours. With the tickets bought for 10 pm, we went to ask.
There was a priority access for customers who had tickets purchased and at that time there was no one in line. They told us to return at the time we had the entrance. So we took the opportunity to get close to a stand and eat some delicious crepes.
And when it was about 15 minutes before 10 o'clock we went back to the access. Suddenly we saw several groups of Italian and Portuguese students appear. Thankfully we had been foresighted and got a great pole. At least five let us access the elevator.
The views from above are beautiful, although probably not the best we will see of Paris. However, the subjective value for me of being in the Tower is priceless. I do not have photos of the views although that is the least, because the most beautiful are the memories. As we got to the second floor and went to buy the tickets to go to the summit.
We decided to eat at the restaurant next door. We took two bland sandwiches and macaroons and we sat on the terrace of the restaurant. But the terrace was surrounded by giant bees! We ran out and we sat on the grass, away from the terrace. The tranquility did not last more than ten minutes, when another bee began to follow us again.
The truth is that we were exhausted and at 11:20 we decided to go down, and return to the hotel. And here ends our day in the city. It was short, but very intense.
A macaron is a sweet confectionery made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food coloring. The macaron is commonly filled with buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies. Its name is derived from an Italian word "maccarone" or "maccherone" meaning crush or beat.
Some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Catherine de' Medici's Italian pastry chefs whom she brought with her in 1533 upon marrying Henry II of France. Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors with fillings ranging from jams, ganache, or buttercream.
Here is a recipe for the Macarons:
4 eggs, only the white portion is needed
150 gm almond flour
150 gm icing sugar
200 gm caster sugar
Food colouring powder (optional)
Cocoa powder (optional)
1. Sift the almond flour & icing sugar and set aside.
2. Using either a hand mixer or standing mixer beat 2 eggs until frothy. Add around one-fifth of the sugar while beating. Do this in 3 lots.
3. Heat a small pot on the stove with 2 cups of water and the caster sugar for about 30 seconds.
4.Once it boils pour the syrup slowly into the mixing bowl along with the egg whites. Speed up the mixer and continue to beat until the mixture is fairly cool. It should be shiny and firm.
5. Add the sifted almond & icing sugar, as well as the egg whites of the rest 2 eggs and any food colouring if you want.
6. Gently fold the mixture using a rubber spatula. Start from the middle and work your way around to the edge. Be careful not to over fold. Do this for a few minutes until the batter is sort of like magma. It should be pliable and when you lift your spatula, it should fall down like a ribbon.
7. Use 1 sheet of baking paper.You can choose to dust spices, cocoa powder etc. to decorate your shells. Let them stand for 1 -2 hours.
8. Pre-heat your oven to about 150 degrees celsius. Put the tray into the oven and leave them for about 25 minutes.
9. Once they've cool down, put them in an air tight container and freeze them.